“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom” – Marcel Proust
At work, we have champions for each of the One Planet Living principles and each month we choose one as a theme. With January usually considered the gloomy month, we tried to combat this with Health and Happiness as the theme. Being the champion for this principle, I put on a whole bunch of activities. This included lunch time movie clubs, more pub trips, competitions, lunchtime adventure walks, popcorn in meetings etc. To be honest, it’s stuff we do quite a lot anyway but I just made it known more.
I also delivered a seminar, presenting a rough guide to happiness – slides below (it might not all make sense without a presenter but you should get the gist):
All this Health and Happiness stuff was interesting and really got me thinking again about work-life balances and employee well-being. Friends were telling me about organisations where employees get free massages on Fridays, and other offices that offered a free laundry service.
All this is lovely, but such generous pampering might not be so easily afforded by all organisations. However given the high costs of employee absence/sickness, investing and looking after employees is certainly worth the effort. The economic costs of sickness absence and worklessness in the UK are over £100 billion a year – greater than the current annual budget for the NHS and equivalent to the entire GDP of Portugal (source, p.16). It doesn’t necessarily have to cost much, but it does require good management, some creative thinking and time. Finding good management is the hardest part.
The other thing that this month reminded me is how incredible NEF’s work on the Happy Planet Index has been. This is the first ever index that combines our environmental impacts and human well-being. It’s pioneering stuff and with other key publications in recent years such as Prosperity Without Growth, we are slowly starting to see signs of a better way to measure national success. I just wish these things would happen quicker so we can lead the way. Our planet is already unwell and is on course to catch a terribly awful flu.
Useful happiness links:
Action for Happiness: www.actionforhappiness.org – new charity set up by Richard Layard.
Richard Layard’s book on Happiness (a holy grail of happiness knowledge)
NEF have worked out some interesting factors that influence wellbeing in the workplace.